Soulsmithing part 1

I had the honour of being able to observe and assist as Pierre Nadeau of soulsmithing.com works on setting up his new smithy in Canada. The last time I saw Pierre and his wife was when they (and we) were packing to move from Japan in late 2011.… Continue reading

Japan Photo Essay: Antique Nata

This antique nata is in the permanent collection at Soulsmithing and is a lovely example of original handcraft from Japan. This photo essay will reveal some of the beautiful details of this tool for study and appreciation. Nata (屶, “mountain sword”) come in many sizes and shapes, but… Continue reading

Process: Making the Mountain Kotanto

The wider profile of the mountain style kotanto is inspired by a kamakura sword and has a more deeply curved tip (fukura-tsuku) and shorter drop point. The simple and humble mounting style is inspired by the age-old style of farming and foresting tools traditionally used in managing satoyama… Continue reading

Tanto Forging Practice: Railroad Spike

Hand forging a classical tanto style blade study from a reclaimed railroad spike and a tsuba from the spike head…a serious letter opener? The goal is to use all of the steel efficiently by moving it into place and end up with classical tanto proportions and form. Serious… Continue reading

Forging a Nakago Punch for Making Tsuba

This punch is specifically designed to create nakago-ana (tang opening) in iron or copper tsuba, saving time with a cold chisel and files. The concept is to forge something shaped similar to a tang but with an exaggerated taper for strength.

The tool could be hardened but will likely lose its heat treatment during the drifting stage so best to keep the neck sturdy and short enough to hold up either way.

Working at very high heat will help prevent splitting when punching wrought iron. The tsuba in this video is medium carbon steel.

As time allows, the plan is to forge a bottom die (rather than use the hardy hole) to reduce the amount of distortion at the edges of the nakago-ana and speed up the drifting process, reducing the required number of heats to drift.

Carving an Aikuchi Tanto Koshirae

Hand carving a classical tanto style mounting from reclaimed and local natural materials using traditional Japanese woodworking tools.

A note about the wooden koiguchi: I don’t recommend this method with any wood other than Oceanspray ironwood due to its peculiar strength in cross section…wood (or better, horn) grain should run vertically across the opening to add strength to the koiguchi in the correct areas.

The abrasive plant material used for fine sanding/polishing is dried tokusa (polishing grass), known as horsetail in english…the plant cells contain silica and it can be used dried as is or glued to wooden blocks with sokui.